The Skulls (2000)

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Released 20-Dec-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-Aurora
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Rob Cohen (Director)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Spotlight On Location
Theatrical Trailer
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 101:53 (Case: 106)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:29) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rob Cohen
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Joshua Jackson
Paul Walker
Hill Harper
Leslie Bibb
Christopher McDonald
Steve Harris
William Petersen
Craig T. Nelson
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $34.95 Music Randy Edelman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    From the back cover blurb: "On a prominent University Ivy League campus, a secret society exists. Only an elite few are invited to join. The C.I.A. was born inside its walls and at least three former U.S. Presidents are members."

    This secret society is known as The Skulls.

    When Luke McNamara (Joshua Jackson) is offered the opportunity to join this secret society, he jumps at the chance. But, his closest friends have their reservations and concerns about the consequences of joining such a society. For a while it looks like joining The Skulls is going to make all Luke's dreams to come true, but it soon turns sour after The Skulls have to cover up an unfortunate accident which occurred on their premises.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is extremely clear and sharp at all times, with no low-level noise or edge enhancement noticed. The shadow detail is very good when it was meant to be - there are quite a few scenes that have little to no shadow detail, but this was a deliberate cinematic choice rather than a transfer fault. There are several sequences that suffer from what appears to be strong edge bleeding, predominantly red, but this appears to have also been a deliberate cinematic choice rather than a transfer fault - one example of this can be found at 25:11 - 25:32.

    The colour is exemplary. It is beautifully saturated, rich and vibrant, with natural-looking skin tones throughout.

    There are a few scenes that suffer from some minor background grain, such as at 12:20, 32:28 - 32:40, 78:19 - 78:29 and 97:00. In addition to these minor instances there is one scene that suffers from some serious grain which disrupts the picture quality at 97:23 - 97:45.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. The sharpness of this transfer does, however, lead to some trivial aliasing and moiré artefacts. Examples are at 11:22 - 11:27, 43:40 - 43:45 and 90:12 - 90:18. There is also some extremely  trivial telecine wobble during the closing credits, but it is barely noticeable and becomes totally imperceptible when the rolling credits start.

    There is a light sprinkling of film artefacts. Almost all were small and unobtrusive.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 78:29 in Chapter 16 on a scene change. It is well-placed, but is obvious because of the accompanying audio pause. Overall, it is pretty good.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and an English Audio Commentary track, which is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (224Kb/s). I listened the default Dolby Digital  5.1 soundtrack and then the audio commentary soundtrack. Again I would like to commend Roadshow Home Entertainment for using the higher bitrate 448Kb/s and 224Kb/s audio bitstreams.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout the entire movie. Only two minor instances of slightly distorted/clipped sounding dialogue were noticed, at 31:28 - 31:30 and 95:52. I'm sure both of these occurrences would have been in the original source material and not transfer induced.

    No audio sync problems were noticed with this transfer.

    Randy Edelman's musical score is excellent.

    The surround channels were very aggressively used for ambience, music and lots of special effects. Directional effects and precise sound placement within the sound field were the norm rather than the exception, putting you right in the midst of the movie at all times and not just during the action sequences.

    The subwoofer is continually being used to subtly add bass to most scenes, and is highly active during some of the more dramatic sequences.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There is a good selection of high quality extras present.

Menu

    The Main Menu is 16x9 enhanced and has animation and theme music (Dolby Digital 2.0, 224Kb/s). The Menu selections are; Play Movie, Scene Selection (20), Special Features and Sound & Subtitle.

    The Special Features and Scene Selection menus also have musical underscoring.

Dolby Digital Trailer - Aurora

Biographies

    This section contains Biographies and Filmographies for Joshua Jackson, Paul Walker, Leslie Bibb, Craig T. Nelson, William L. Petersen, Hill Harper and Rob Cohen (Director).

Featurette-Spotlight on Location/Making Of (13:41 minutes)

    This featurette is of excellent quality, presented in the 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a Dolby Digital 2.0, 224Kb/sec soundtrack. It is the usual extended promotional piece for the movie, with some behind-the-scenes details. There is a noticeable master-tape induced fault at 9:53.

Theatrical Trailer (2:14 minutes)

    The theatrical trailer is of excellent quality, presented in the 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with a Dolby Digital 2.0, 224Kb/sec soundtrack.

Deleted Scenes - with Production Audio or Director's Commentary (10 - 12:25 minutes)

    The picture has a slightly soft appearance and there is some grain and the odd film artefact, but overall it is of very good quality. Rob Cohen's (Director) commentary is great, as he talks about why the scenes were given the chop.

Audio Commentary - Rob Cohen (Director)

    This commentary features Rob Cohen in the centre channel speaking over the film's soundtrack. The commentary is presented as a Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) surround-encoded soundtrack. I felt that the film's soundtrack that Rob Cohen was talking over should have been a little quieter, as it became distracting at times. Rob Cohen continually talks throughout the entire film, with only one short pause noticed. I found his commentary to be very interesting and insightful in regards to the making of The Skulls.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Even through the R4 disc misses out on a Production notes booklet and some uninspiring DVD-ROM extras, I feel the R4 disc is still a far better choice, because of PAL's innate superiority over NTSC.

Summary

    I enjoyed watching The Skulls. It has a good story and is well-acted. It is presented on an excellent DVD.

    The picture quality is excellent, but its overall rating has been lowered because of one scene that suffers from some strong grain.

    The audio quality is superb, and only just misses out on being reference quality.

    There is a good selection of high quality extras present.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Friday, December 15, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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